On Tuesday, USDA/FGIS reported there were 58 million bushels of U.S. corn inspected for export during the week ending Sept. 1, up about 2 million bushels from the previous week. Soybean volumes were also strong at 45 million bushels versus 34 million bushels a week ago. That’s a solid 34 percent increase in volume, week over week. Even more impressive – soy inspections during the same week a year ago were only 3.5 million bushels. Finally, wheat inspections were 23.5 million bushels compared to 17 million bushels last year.

Last week’s impressive numbers come after several weeks of strong export inspections among major commodities. The volume numbers clearly show anticipated U.S. grain and soy export strength is a reality. World Perspectives reports that Free on Board (FOB) capacity at Gulf and Pacific Northwest (PNW) export facilities is already becoming tight, and harvesting of the bin-breaking 2016 corn and soybean crops has barely begun. 

But You’ve Gotta Get it There

Production problems for other major exporters (Brazil) and a more stable U.S. dollar have made U.S. grains and soybeans more competitive in world markets. Cheap ocean freight helps too. According to USDA’s Grain Transportation Report (GTR), for the week ending August 25, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $29.50 per metric ton, 1 percent more than the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $16.50 per metric ton, unchanged from the previous week. We haven’t seen shipping rates as low as today since 2002-2003 and again during the bottom of Great Recession in 2008-2009.

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